The suburban teenager at the center of a controversial arrest, in which Oak Lawn officers were seen beating the 17-year-old on camera following a foot chase, was released into the custody of his parents.
Leaning on a walker as he walked out of Cook County Juvenile Facility on Tuesday afternoon, Hadi Abuatelah thanks supporters who cheered his release.
“Thank you for all the support,” said the 17-year-old.
Prosecutors requested a three-week extension in the case after police requested charges for a total of five crimes, including two felonies. Abuatelah was freed by a judge when prosecutors said the state’s attorney’s office has yet to decide whether to pursue charges brought by Oak Lawn police, which include illegal use of a weapon and resisting arrest.
The teenager, who was released from Advocate Christ Medical Center where he was treated for injuries after the arrest, was transported to Cook County Juvenile Detention Center this week, Oak Lawn Police said in a press release.
Police say the incident unfolded last Wednesday when an officer on patrol detected the smell of burning cannabis coming from a vehicle that did not have a front license plate. The officer stopped the vehicle and ordered the driver to get out, according to police. After the driver exited, officers asked the rear driver-side passenger to exit the vehicle, noting that he “appeared nervous and had a bag of accessories draped over his shoulder.”
When asked to place his hands on the vehicle, the 17-year-old began to run, as seen in dash cam video of the incident released by the Oak Lawn Police Department . Officers attempt to apprehend the suspect near 95th Street and McVicker Avenue, but a struggle ensues when they attempt to take him to the ground, police said.
The suspect grabbed his bag and attempted to open it, according to police, who said the teenager did not comply when given verbal orders. Fearing the suspect was looking for a weapon in the bag, officers attempted to physically take control of his hands, police said.
Video released by Oak Lawn Police showed an officer punching the teenager multiple times on the legs, while another punched him near the head. About a minute later, officers tasered the individual and took him into custody shortly thereafter.
A 25mm pistol, loaded with three rounds, was discovered in the teenager’s bag, police said. He and an officer were both transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center due to injuries they both sustained.
Members of Abuatelah’s family spoke about the incident alongside members of the Arab-American community last week, demanding the dismissal of the officers involved.
“Yesterday he was in the car with his friends. The cops attacked him and almost beat him to death,” Abuatelah’s mother, Dena Natour, said a day after the arrest. “He has fractures all over his face. He has bruises. He is currently in hospital with a neck brace. Very traumatic…”
Oak Lawn Police defended their officers’ actions, saying the subject “refused to listen to verbal orders, which resulted in a physical confrontation with two officers.”
“I don’t think that’s what matters here,” said a lawyer representing Hadi’s family. “I think what matters here is that you have two individuals, adults, back on top of a juvenile, smashing his head against the pavement. That’s what matters here.”
The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the use of force during the incident.